Top 10 Celebrities We Liked Before They Got Too Political

Script written by Q.V. Hough You were way cooler before you started speaking strictly about politics, you silly celebrities! Well, I guess the ultimate example of this would be Donald Trump. But, we’re looking more at the celebrities that went from an actor, singer, or entertainer, to almost an activist by nature. Russell Brand, The Dixie Chicks, Ted Nugent, Sean Penn, Lena Dunham, and more!
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Top 10 Celebrities We Liked Before They Got Too Political


When the cameras are rolling, these celebrities let their politics be known. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrities We Liked Before They Got Too Political.

For this list, we’re focusing on celebrities that have taken full advantage of their fame by taking sharp turns, both left and right, into politics.

#10: Russell Brand

In “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” this English comedian portrayed a troubled yet hilarious rock star named Aldous Snow. Due to Russell Brand’s memorable performance, he landed a starring role in the follow-up production, “Get Him to the Greek,” which also spawned a relationship with Katy Perry. But, as Russell Brand became a trending topic, he began promoting his politics and revolutionary ideas. Although a gifted and insightful comic, there’s a fine line between celebrity revolutionaries and political activists that work behind the scenes. In the end, Brand seems to enjoy the attention, but we just want more Aldous Snow.

#9: Azealia Banks

In late 2011, this Harlem MC released the hyperactive single “212”; a track that would ultimately be featured in HBO’s “Girls,” along with numerous feature films. At the time, the name Azealia Banks was associated solely with her music. But then she began talking trash. Of course, that’s part of the game, but Azealia often goes over the top with brash tweets about celebrities and ethnic groups. It’s always something with Azealia Banks, and she seems to go for the shock effect time and time again. Talented as she may be, her offensive remarks don’t seem to be helping her career, so that might be a sign that she should focus more on the music and less on the drama.

#8: Dixie Chicks

In the late ‘90s, The Dixie Chicks rose to fame after the massive success of “Wide Open Spaces”. They followed that up with three Billboard #1 albums over the next several years. This made them one of the most endearing – and relatable – crossover acts of their time. As such, fans flocked to their live shows… to hear them sing. Lead singer Natalie Maines had other ideas, as she began using her platform to complain about then President George W. Bush, who was also raised in Texas. Suddenly, it was less about the music and more about making a political statement, leading supporters to look elsewhere.

#7: Donald Trump

Regardless of one’s personal politics, no one can deny the Donald’s relevance in American pop culture. In fact, there was a time when Donald Trump was a trending water-cooler topic, finding laughs with his outrageous demeanor on NBC’s “The Apprentice.” Then, Trump intimidated contestants, making him one of the great stars of reality TV. Unsurprisingly, America’s fascination with him increased, and so he ramped up his political aspirations, which had previously been dismissed. With more support came more power, until his bravado and aggressive politics ultimately made him the most powerful man in the world. Let’s just say, a lot of people like Primetime Trump more than Presidential Trump.

#6: Ted Nugent

Born and raised in the Upper Midwest, this rock and roller's resume dates back to the ‘60s. Ted Nugent can flat out shred on the guitar, and for a long time, that’s all that many people knew about him. But given his personality and straightedge approach to life, Ted naturally became a pop culture personality; a man that liked to promote his personal ideals. Unsurprisingly, this is when Nugent became a polarizing figure, as his preachy rhetoric and affinity for guns rubbed some people the wrong way. With that, he transformed from Ted Nugent the rock star, into Ted Nugent, the former rock star with strong, right wing opinions.

#5: Sean Penn

As one of the most enduring stars of modern Hollywood, Sean Penn has earned plenty of clout within the industry. With that being said, the actor is anything but shy off-screen and has long been one of the more vocal Hollywood personalities. When somebody likes Penn begins injecting himself into international narratives, it naturally leads to negative publicity. In 2015, Penn arranged an interview with Mexican drug lord “El Chapo,” leading many to question his intentions. It’s not always clear what Penn hopes to achieve with his political rhetoric, but he’s become yet another Hollywood star that continuously inserts himself into societal narratives, when all many people want is a new movie.

#4: Charlton Heston

Whereas some people recognize this late actor as a true Hollywood icon, others only know him as the former President of the National Rifle Association. During his prime, Charlton Heston was a towering figure, known for his roles in “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur” and “Planet of the Apes.” And while Heston was always politically active during his lifetime, it was the documentary “Bowling for Columbine” that made the average moviegoer a little more aware of his politics. For many, it's now almost impossible to watch a Heston film without thinking about everything else, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his viewpoints.

#3: Lena Dunham

This timely filmmaker became an indie darling with her 2010 film “Tiny Furniture.” As her follow-up, Lena Dunham created and starred in the acclaimed HBO series “Girls,” tapping into a millennial mindset. But just as her career took off, social media took off, too – providing for some awkward Lena Dunham moments. Thanks to this, Lena has embraced her fame, sometimes using it for good and sometimes making people scratch their head. But it can be difficult to gauge if Lena is playing a role within pop culture or just playing the role of real-life Hanna Horvath. Whatever the case, the lines have become blurred.

#2: Jenny McCarthy

In the '90s, this blonde bombshell graced the pages of Playboy and hosted the MTV series “Singled Out.” At the time, Jenny McCarthy was a genuine American sex symbol, and one that had comedic appeal within pop culture, too. Like so many other models turned actresses, Jenny had a working career in both television and film, leading to more opportunities as she became a mother. In 2007, Jenny’s persona took a hit after some controversial opinions about autism, later bolstered by a hosting gig on “The View” in 2013. Once a fun-loving MTV personality, McCarthy flipped a switch and became “controversial.”

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Scott Baio
- Janeane Garofalo
- Bono

#1: Kirk Cameron

In the '80s, he was one of television’s most iconic stars. As the mischievous Mike Seaver on “Growing Pains,” Kirk Cameron became a pop culture superstar. Even though Cameron didn’t ultimately have a lasting television career, his legacy had been established - at least until he became the face of the “Left Behind” movie franchise and began promoting his personal politics on TV. Furthermore, Kirk’s willingness to push his religious agenda in the media hasn’t helped either. Now, it’s almost impossible to experience “Growing Pains” reruns in the same way as before.
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